not-quite-seven fishes


And somehow, we are days away from another new year. 2014 has been a bit of a blur, with book stuff and work stuff and kid stuff all taking my attention away from cataloging meals, but this one, our Christmas Eve feast, was a meal I wanted to make note of.


Though neither of us can claim Italian heritage, we love the tradition of “la vigila,” and we have had seafood dinner on 12/24 for many years now. This year, anticipating a full day at the office, I had to come up with something simple and relatively fast to ensure we’d have plenty of time to play Santa after dinner and getting the little ones to bed. So I made a healthy amount of herbed butter (chervil, though dill or tarragon or parsley would all work well), slathered it on the cut sides of two split lobster tails, and laid them on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Those went into the oven for a few minutes on their own, then I pulled the pan out and scattered some shaved fennel, thinly sliced Meyer lemon, blue shrimp and Nantucket bay scallops all around. A drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt, and back into the oven briefly. I finished them under the broiler to get a little more color, then served our simple roasted seafood with garlicky toasts and a nice bottle of rosé. Proof that sometimes, the less you do to delicious ingredients, the better they taste.

lean times

Coney Island-bound.

It’s hard to believe it was just over a year ago that we returned to Brooklyn. So much has happened over the last 12 months, it often feels like we’ve been back here much longer. We’ve been settling in to our new neighborhood, slowly reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. There have been new professional opportunities to pursue, and on a personal level, we’ve had the joy of watching our little guy learn to walk and run and talk a blue streak. And before we know it, that little guy is going to be a big brother, and we’ll welcome a new little one into our family, into this big, shiny place we call home.

view from the B train

Looking at where we are now, how far we’ve come and what we have to look forward to in the year ahead, kind of takes my breath away.


We’ve been so lucky – we’ve had a whole lot of good come our way in the last year, and more still to come, but it hasn’t been easy. I’ve worked more hours in the last 12 months than I probably ever have before in my career, and that hasn’t left me a lot of time to spend with my guys, let alone to keep up with this blog. And we’re still recovering, in a lot of ways, from our big move. We spent everything we had and then some to get back here, and as anyone who has spent time here knows, New York is expensive. We’ve had to really simplify, and one way I’ve done so is by relying more heavily on our favorite pantry staples when planning meals for the week.

I came up with this dish a year ago, when we were still sleeping on air mattresses in our brand new Brooklyn apartment, living out of suitcases and a couple of Rubbermaid bins, trying to stretch the pantry items we were able to move with us from Providence and the few fresh foods we could afford until my first paycheck arrived. We liked it so well I’ve made it numerous times since then, sometimes adding peas or short lengths of asparagus, a little something fresh and green from the farmers’ market. Even at it’s simplest, it has always satisfied.

Pasta with Salmon in Creamy Lemon Sauce

Pasta with Salmon in Creamy Lemon Sauce

1 lb short, chunky dry pasta (I usually use farfalle, but any shape will do)
3 T unsalted butter
3 T unbleached all-purpose flour
1 lemon, juice and zest
1 cup whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
1 6 oz. can salmon, drained, skin and bones removed
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
snipped scallions or chives, about ½ cup
(Optional: 1 cup peas or short lengths of blanched asparagus)

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to the boil for your pasta.

While the water heats, melt the butter in a wide, shallow pan over low-to-medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and whisk it in to combine, letting it cook briefly but being careful not to brown it. Whisk in the lemon juice – it will probably seize up, but don’t panic! Whisk in the milk until the mixture smoothes out, then add the heavy cream. Heat for a minute, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Add the lemon zest and the salmon, breaking it up as you go. (If you’re adding peas or asparagus, add them at this point.)

Once your pasta water is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce, with a bit of the cooking liquid still clinging to it. Scatter the scallions or chives over the pasta and sauce in the pan, leaving a few aside for garnish, and stir until the pasta is coated with the sauce and the sauce is slightly reduced. Add more scallions or chives and another grinding of pepper, and serve.

No-sweat Cooking, Day 18

Herbed Crab Salad-Stuffed Avocados

31 dishes, 31 days – I’m cooking my way through Melissa Clark‘s “No-Sweat Cooking” from the August issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray. And to those of you who made your way over here via, welcome!

I love avocado in just about any form, so I was looking forward to trying these Herbed Crab Salad-Stuffed Avocados and they did not disappoint. Our avocados were on the small side so we have a good amount of the crab salad left over, but that’s hardly a bad thing – I’m sure it will be great on a sandwich or a mound of crisp greens… or maybe we just need to buy more avocados.

Get the recipe: Herbed Crab Salad-Stuffed Avocados

No-sweat Cooking, Day 15


31 dishes, 31 days – I’m cooking my way through Melissa Clark‘s “No-Sweat Cooking” from the August issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray. And to those of you who made your way over here via, welcome!

We enjoyed these tasty little bites before our gazpacho dinner Monday night, and while I couldn’t really wrap the cheese in the lox thanks to some rather tiny, odd-shaped slices in my package of wild Alaskan smoked salmon (as you can probably tell by the rogue dill fronds on most of them), my improvisation worked just fine. These are a little light to make up a whole meal for us, but they’re perfect as a snack or a first course. I’d love to make them again when we’ve got some of our own home-cured salmon, perhaps even using a mix of herbs to echo the ones in our cure mix.

Lox ’n’ Goat Cheese Crostini

Get the recipe: Lox ’n’ Goat Cheese Crostini

No-Sweat Cooking, Day 1

just like honey

The heat has been relentless this summer. My friend Jan remarked to me on Saturday at the farmers’ market that last summer was so grey and rainy she forgot just how miserable the heat could be. Meal planning can be hard when the mercury climbs, even for a committed home cook like me, so I’m always on the lookout for dinnertime inspiration beyond salads this time of year.

I found it in Melissa Clark’s “No Sweat Cooking,” which appears in the August issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine. She put forth some really appealing dishes to help folks beat the heat but still eat well, and for the next month, I’ll be cooking my way through them – 31 dishes in 31 days, all blogged here.

scallop ceviche, pre-citrus

I got started with last night’s dinner, taking advantage of Mike’s absence to indulge in something he’s not a fan of but that I love – fresh melon. It’s featured in a simple scallop ceviche, made bright and zippy with chilies and mint, the melon adding a subtle sweetness and lovely color to the dish.

scallop ceviche

I picked up the tiniest muskmelon I could find from Wishing Stone Farm, barely the size of a softball, and combined the diced flesh with my citrus “cooked” Bomster scallops. A little chopping and squeezing and about two hours’ time was all I needed to get this elegant, refreshing meal on the table, and as promised, I didn’t break a sweat. We’re off to a good start.

Get the recipe: Scallop-and-Cantaloupe Ceviche

Something Fishy

little gems

The weather seems to finally have turned, and I’ve really been craving lighter, brighter flavors. It’s perfect timing, really, because the farmers’ markets around Boston are finally open for the season, which means that we can now shop at a farmers’ market in Providence or Boston nearly every day of the week. It’s really the beginning of the very best time of the year to cook and eat around these parts.

they look like they're marching

The warmer weather also means that I love to escape from my windowless office whenever possible and take a lunchtime stroll up the North End to visit my favorite fishmongers. Liz and Keri always have beautiful fresh seafood, and it’s always a treat to visit their adorable shop, chat with them, and know that I’m bringing home something delicious to cook up.

Dinner: June 9, 2010

For the second week running, one of those delicious offerings from the sea was soft shell crabs, in season right now, and particularly sweet and tasty. Last week I soaked some in buttermilk, dredged them in flour, and served the crispy little guys on a “broken” basil and lemon puree; this time around I went with a different take. They got a super light coating of seasoned Wondra flour, then a brief saute in a hot pan slicked with a little bit of grapeseed oil, then I served them up with a sprinkle of slivered almonds and a dipping sauce composed of tamari, mirin, rice wine vinegar, shaved green garlic, and a little toasted sesame oil.

cucumber salad

On the side, I served up a salad of cucumber ribbons dressed with a light rice wine vinaigrette, slivers of nori from She Sells Seaweed, and black sesame seeds, very much inspired by a dish we had at last years Farm Fresh RI Local Food Fest.

Dinner: June 10, 2010

Last night’s seafood preparation was even simpler. I had two gorgeous pieces of mahi mahi, which I salted, dried well, then seared in a bit of grapeseed oil until the skin was crackly-crisp. When I flipped the fish so the skin side was up, I added a nub of anchovy butter, which soaked into the flesh of the fish, infusing it with more rich flavor, and I served the seared filets on top of a basil and garlic scape citronette, with simply halved and salted tiny heirloom tomatoes from Kimball’s Fruit Farm scattered around. Quick, simple, delicious.